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What the Hell is a Cat Café? | San Francisco, USA

Kit Tea Cat Cafe SF

It has been said that San Francisco is kinda like Neverland: childless young adults with Peter Pan syndrome. We’ve already warned our grandmothers that we won’t be married by 26, having our first child by 28.5, or making a downpayment on our starter house by 31, because let’s be honest… we could never afford a house anywhere near here, anyway. Instead, we work long hours to rent tiny 4-bedroom apartments, imbibe $14 cocktails, and squirrel away the remnants for concerts, hobbies, and the occasional adventure.

We usually feel empowered beside those who settled down so soon but damn if there aren’t times we’d like to take care of something besides ourselves –anything, really. We’re tired of overwatering our succulent garden, so we get a fish. They like water, right? When that proves unfulfilling, we retreat to the suburbs to BBQ and hug the babies of our more established friends. And all that really does is validate our fears that we’re not quite ready yet.

We want to pass our love onto something less than a baby, and more than a fish. So, naturally, San Francisco gave us a cat café. KitTea, how did you know we needed you?

Kit Tea Cat Cafe SF

OK, what the hell is a cat café?

A cat café is quite like it sounds, actually. It is is a café filled with 10-15 cats and cups of coffee or tea. The first ever cat café opened its doors in Taipei in 1998, but the concept really took off in Japan where many residents live in pet restrictive apartments. In recent years, cat cafés have sprung up throughout Asia, Europe, and North America where patrons go seeking everything from entertainment to companionship to adoption.

The KitTea Cat Café in San Francisco is “dedicated to enriching the interactions between humans and adoptable felines in a relaxing environment.”

Cat at KitTea Cat Cafe SF

What is a cat café like? 

In the case of the cat café in San Francisco, KitTea, you’ll want to make your reservations in advance. Your reservation will entitle you to a spot in the room and bottomless tea. During the week, time slots go for $20 per person for an hour, while a weekend spot will run you $25 per person for an hour (rates from 2017).

Upon arrival, you’ll check in, enter the cat lounge, and order a cup of tea. The room is scattered with a variety of toys, cat structures, and of course, a whole lot of cats. Before you’re allowed to play, the cat wrangler will go over the rules and give an introduction to all of the felines. Then, there’s no time to waste. For the next 30-60 minutes, you better go hard at pretending to have a pet.

We almost forgot. If sitting in a room full of cats simply not enough for you, you can also enjoy a Yoga with Cats session or a Mewvie night at San Francisco’s KitTea. This is not a joke.

Cat Tail Speak Instructions at KitTea

Cat at Cat Cafe

Polly at KitTea Cat Cafe

What about the cats?

Most cat cafés are filled with rescue cats up for adoption. At KitTea, each cat has a bio where you can learn more about their personality and background. If you’re looking to adopt, KitTea is quite possibly the best way to see how your new pal interacts around people and other cats.

If you’re having questions about cat welfare, feel free to ask the cafe about it! Founders don’t go into the cat café business to make big money. KitTea has a strong mission to get these guys adopted, and the cats lives in the playroom are much better than they might be in a shelter or in line for euthanasia. They’re free to come and go from the room as they like, and get plenty of breaks so they’re not over-socialized.

Looking outside the window at KitTea

Good to Know

  • Where is KitTea?  96 Gough Street San Francisco, California, USA
  • How much does it cost? $20-$25 per hour
  • How long do I need? 1 hour

Cat cafés around the world

If you’re in San Francisco, we’d say you ought to try KitTea. Whether you find this concept weird or wonderful, it’s at the very least an experience worth having.

Not in San Francisco? As we mentioned, cat cafés are only just getting started in the US, but there are plenty more cat cafés worth checking out. Here’s our list of the best cat cafés around the world!

Cat in chair at KitTea

Interior of KitTea Cat Cafe SF

Like it? Pin it!Popularized in Asia, cat cafés have come to the US at last. Inside KitTea Cat Café in San Francisco - what to expect and other important details.

Do you think this is weird or wonderful? Have questions like “will there be hair in my tea?” Feel free to ask in the comments below!


  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    love it!

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      October 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks, Sophie! Have you ever been to one?

  • Reply
    August 22, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Roars to you for a cat cafe article:)

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      August 24, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you, Cathy! Have you ever been to one?

  • Reply
    January 23, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    I adopted my cat from KitTea 2 years ago.

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